Friday, December 09, 2005

M is for MOOGAMBAT

This article is part of a special series called "The A-Z of Marathi food". India is the land of diversity. Each of the 28 states in India has a unique cuisine but the Indian food served in restaurants represents only a tiny fraction of our culinary heritage. I come from the western Indian state of Maharashtra. Capital: Bombay (Mumbai). Population: 96 million (only 11 countries in the world have a population higher than Maharashtra). Language: Marathi. Traditional Marathi food is earthy and humble, diverse and very tasty. It also remains relatively unknown to non-marathis. Its time to change that. I invite you to join me on an alphabetical culinary tour of my state. We will go through the letters A to Z and make a dish with each letter to show-case Marathi cuisine.

M is for Moogambat.

Following closely on the heels of "L", we come to the letter "M". It starts with a trio of spices, mohri (mustard), the similar-sounding miri ( black peppercorns) and the all-important ingredient of Indian food, mirchi (chilli peppers). These are generally added in small quantities to spice up foods, but mirchi is considered an ingredient in its own right...fresh chillies are ground up with salt to give a amazingly spicy paste called mirchi cha thecha (smashed chillies). The most famous M word is, without a doubt, masala which means the dry spice mixtures and spice pastes that form an integral part of Indian cooking, but is a word also used to describe spicy gossip and all matters of a tabloid nature!
M is the word for maida (pronounced ma-ee-da) or all-purpose flour, which has many uses in the kitchen but still is not as widely used as its healthier whole-wheat cousin, luckily for us. M stands for some popular vegetables including maka or corn, mattar or peas, and methi or fenugreek, a mildly bitter and very nutritious green leafy vegetable. The most popular M lentil is moong, often used in its sprouted avatar.
One delightfully sweet M is a dumpling called modak. These sweets resemble onions in shape, round at one end and tapering at the other; and are made by stuffing a coconut mixture into dough which is then either steamed or fried. Modaks are a special treat made at the festival honoring Ganesha, the elephant-god.
I know the "M" that everyone is waiting for is misal, a delightful snack made with a base of lentil curry, then sprinkled with all kinds of fried garnishes and chutneys and eaten with bread. This street food is my favorite too, but its not what I made today (wait! hear me out!). The reason is that the base of misal is a curry called "usal" and I am saving it for the letter "U", when I will make usal and misal together. So misal is coming around in just a few weeks!
The dish I decided to make for "M" is actually influenced by the cuisine of the konkan coast. It is a curry made with sprouted whole moong. The name moogambat is a combination word of moong+ ambat (sour) indicating that it is a tangy curry. A reader has kindly corrected me by saying that, "in konkani ambat means amti", so this dish actually translates to moong amti. My apologies for this error. My paternal grandmother was konkani and hence the influence of this style of cooking.

Moogambat

Mugambat
Ingredients:
3 cups sprouted moong beans (Primer for sprouting beans), cooked till tender
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
pinch of asafoetida
1 tbsp tamarind paste
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 tbsp oil
salt to taste
1 tbsp jaggery (brown sugar)
For the paste
1 tbsp oil
1/2 cup shredded coconut (unsweetened)
1/2 cup onion, coarsely chopped
4 dried red chillies
1 tbsp coriander seeds
Method
1. Make the paste by heating the oil in a skillet and toasting all the ingredients for the paste together. Then grind into a fine paste and set aside.
2. In a pan, heat the oil. Make a "tadka" with cumin, mustard, asafoetida. Add the cooked moong beans and the rest of the ingredients and some water if necessary and simmer the curry for 5-10 minutes. Taste for salt and the sweet-sour balance of flavors. Garnish with cilantro.

This curry could not be simpler to make. It is very tasty with some plain boiled rice. Let's meet next week with "N"!

9 comments:

  1. Wow! We had moong kootu in the morning today with rotis, usually we make it as a bland sauce, never thought of making it this way. Wonderful inspiration. Thank you Nupur.

    :-) Have you noted your award-winning photograph has been mentioned at My Dhaba yesterday, just in case if you missed that info.

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  2. hi nupur
    when we cook the sprouted moong ,do we cook it with the green skin on ?or should we remove it ?will the whole moong get cooked in 5 to 10mins or should i use the pressure coooker ?btw tried ur chawli curry & it was delicious ,infact it has become a weekly special in our house.you r a very good cook.pls continue giving us such authentic recipes from ur region.
    kasturi

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  3. VKN, thanks! I'm glad you liked the recipe...and really appreciate the pat on the back at My Dhaba :)

    Hi Kasturi, thanks so much for pointing out that glaring mistake in the recipe!!! OOPS, I forgot to write that I cook the moong beans before making the curry (have corrected the recipe now).
    You should not remove the green skin from the moong (its totally edible and nutritious in fact). If you wish to make this curry in the pressure cooker, you can use uncooked sprouted moong beans and pressure cook for 2-3 whistles, it will totally work.
    I'm so glad the chawli recipe worked for you...its my complete pleasure to share what little I know.

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  4. nupur
    any inputs for modak, both normal and ukadiche?

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  5. Hey misal recipe fast please... Mumbai Styale okay>>!!

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  6. Hi Nupur,

    Chanced upon your blog a few days back and was amazed to see so many wonderful recipes. My parents are from TN but they grew up in Maharashtra and as a kid I often got a taste of that cuisine. I tried my very first recipe from your blog - Moogambat since it seemed simple enough and it came out amazingly well. I substituted sugar for the jaggery though.. Thanks for this wonderful recipe - I just got a lovely way to make whole moong dhal.

    Aparna

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  7. Hi Nupur,

    I live in NJ and have been a regular lurker on your blog for a past few months. Your recipes are fantastic, I'm from Maharashtra myself, but had very limited cooking experience till a couple of years ago. Your recipes have elevated my cooking to a new level, and my husband ( a non-maharashtrian) has finally started liking marathi food :). Thanks a lot! I tried this one, and the onion bhajji, and many others and all of them are awesome.

    K

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  8. I tried making MoogAmbat according to your recipe, and it turned out very well. Thanks. Btw, I did not pre-cook the sprouted moong. I added a little extra water and let it simmer.

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  9. Hi Nupur...,
    I can't recall how i happened to hit the One Hot Stove site..and believe me that was the site i have been looking for.Am a south indian but born and bought up in bombay..and i love to try out all kind of food...lemme come to the main point...I am expecting a baby and am in my 2nd trimester...i am not able to eat food as i am alone at home dont know what to cook..but i found a good frnd in this site ..so now i try out receipes one - by -one daily..thanxs to you for helping me out..God bless you.

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